Ruger’s “American” Goes Rimfire.
When you open up a shipping box imprinted with “Made in America” in bold letters and then read “Ruger American” engraved on the side of a very stylish receiver, Ruger’s new rimfire already has a magical ring to it. Renowned for producing a quality product at a very affordable price, Ruger has an astonishing capacity for rolling out surprise products. Plus, when they announce a new model these days, it’s already down at your dealer’s. Fielding their American centerfire line of inexpensive bolt actions didn’t catch me off-guard as much as these new rimfire bolt actions, which come packed with features I never would have expected in an inexpensive rifle.
Roughly the same time the Ruger American arrived, a new rimfire scope came through the door. It’s Redfield’s 2-7x34mm Battlezone TAC .22 made by Leupold. Three features caught my eye immediately: Its optics are clear and sharp (which is what we would expect in a Leupold product), it’s a TAC-MOA reticle with both the vertical and horizontal axes marked off in 2 MOA, 20 MOA and 40 MOA increments and it has a bullet drop-compensating elevation dial. Ideally proportioned to the Ruger rimfire, the Redfield is an ideal mate for the American.
The new Ruger comes in two versions and currently in two chamberings. There’s the standard model pictured here with a 22-inch barrel and a weight of 6 pounds and there’s a compact model with 18-inch barrel and a weight of 5.38 pounds. The current chamberings are .22 LR and .22 WMR. The owner’s manual leads me to believe a .17 HMR is not far behind.
The first impression I had upon opening the shipping carton was of a very stylish rifle with some great and interesting lines. The black polymer stock is remarkable. It comes with two interchangeable combs—a low comb for iron sight use and a higher comb for optics, although the lower comb fit my face perfectly when shooting with Redfield’s Battlezone TAC. The secret to swapping out the combs is in the rear sling swivel. It’s actually a bolt threaded into a captive nut in the comb modules. You merely unscrew it, tap the comb module out the rear of the stock and bring in the new one. Pretty neat.
A permanent bedding block provides a rigid, repeatable bedding system.
The black rotary magazine of the American is slimmer than a conventional 10/22 mag.
Molded polymer stocks allow stylish lines that can’t be duplicated in wood: Ruger has taken full advantage of this feature. The checkering patterns on the pistol grip and forearm of the American stock are a case in point. Raised above the surface of the stock and pebble textured, the patterns gracing the pistol grip and forearm are tactile, comfortable, a bit wild and certainly eye-catching.
Another quality that struck me about the polymer stock is the weight and stability it lends to the new rimfire. With the Redfield scope mounted, the weight of the combination measured 7.25 pounds on my Sunbeam scale. That’s centerfire weight in my book—just right as a rimfire understudy to your varmint or big-game rig.
Ruger also uses the qualities of molded polymer to enhance the accuracy of the rifle. There’s a permanent bedding block imbedded in the stock that mates with precision grooves cut in the front receiver ring. It’s a rigid, repeatable bedding system. The barrel is also completely free-floated. When the stock is removed, say for adjusting the trigger, the manual instructs that the front and rear guards screws should be torqued to 35 in-lbs. A Wheeler Engineering in-lb torque wrench can come in mighty handy when working on the Ruger American line.
The only caveat I would add is to watch out if you lean the Ruger with the butt placed on a smooth surface. The end of the butt is smooth plastic, and it literally skates away when rested on anything equally smooth.
The new Ruger trigger is a jewel. It’s fully adjustable from 3 to 5 pounds by merely turning a single Allen screw located at the front of the trigger housing. As it came from the factory, the trigger on the test gun measured a crisp 3.5 pounds. My hat’s off to Ruger, since they recently have been improving all of their triggers across all model lines.
Linked to the trigger is a sliding, 2-position tang safety, which was another design surprise. Located right there under your thumb, the American safety could not be more obvious nor more convenient to the shooter.
Another aid to the accuracy delivered by the American rimfire is its hammer-forged barrel, which is finished off at the muzzle with a nicely machined, recessed target crown. I also sensed that the lock-time of the American was exceedingly short, which is always a real plus when you’re trying to squeeze out the utmost accuracy.
The American’s great trigger is owner-adjustable from 3 to 5 pounds.
The American comes with two easily interchangeable combs, one for iron-sight
shooting and the other to raise the comb for use of a scope.
Feeding the new Ruger American is a 10-shot, rotary, 10/22-type magazine. While it looks exactly the same, it’s not interchangeable with the standard magazine of the Ruger 10/22. The American magazine is narrower for a reason. It permits Ruger to achieve a slimmer and more traditional bolt-action stock line. No bloated belly in this new American. The action area of the stock is tight and trim.
How did it shoot? Well, the bullet drop-compensating dial of the Redfield Battlezone TAC .22 scope is calibrated for a rimfire round featuring a 36-grain hollowpoint bullet with a muzzle velocity of 1,260 fps. Perusing a handful of ammunition catalogs, I finally uncovered that precise round. It is CCI’s Mini-Mag HP, and I just happened to have a box. In my experience, CCI’s Mini-Mag has time and time again, in a variety of rimfire firearms, proved to be the most accurate hunting round around so it was an ideal match for wringing out the new Ruger.
Sighting in at 50 yards to calibrate the drop-compensating dial, I was getting 5-shot groups running from 0.625 to 0.875 inch. The Ruger was proving all those accuracy-enhancing features built into the American added up to precision performance. The only problem I encountered was that the last round from the rotary magazine would misfeed, and I tried several different brands of rimfire ammunition with the same result.
The bullet drop compensating dial of the Redfield is graduated as follows: 50, 75, 90, 100, 110, 120, 130, 140 and 150 yards, so from a 50-yard zero I cranked it up to the 100-yard mark and put five centered shots into 2.25 inches with a 90-degree crosswind nagging at me. That’s good enough for me. I’m not going to be engaging live targets beyond 100 yards with a .22 LR, but the rock-and-sod plinkers will have a ball out to 150 yards I’m sure. One of the nice features about the Battlezone reticle is you do have MOA ticks horizontally and vertically to refine your aiming points and to compensate for wind conditions.
Overall, the Ruger American Rimfire is an impressive firearm. Matched with a quality scope like the Redfield Battlezone and fed quality ammunition, it’s a barnburner and a best buy in the rimfire world.
By Holt Bodinson
MAKER: Sturm, Ruger & Co.
411 Sunapee St.
Newport, NH 03773
Action: Bolt action
Caliber: .22 LR (tested), .22 WMR
Barrel Length: 22 inches
Overall Length: 41 inches
Weight: 6 pounds
Sights: Rear folding leaf, green light tube front
Battlezone TAC .22
14400 NW Greenbrier Parkway
Beaverton, OR 97006
Magnification: 2X to 7X
Objective Diameter: 34mm
Eye Relief: 3.5 inches
Internal Adjustments: 80 MOA elevation and windage
Click Value: 1/4 MOA
Length: 11.3 inches
Weight: 13.6 ounces